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Effects of Milk Replacer Composition on Growth, Body Composition, and Nutrient Excretion in Preweaned Holstein Heifers

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Twenty-four newborn Holstein heifer calves were fed 1 of 4 milk replacers (MR): control (20% CP, 21% fat; MR fed at 441 g/d); high protein/low fat (HPLF; 28% CP, 20% fat; MR fed at 951 g/d); high protein/high fat (HPHF; 27% CP, 28% fat; MR fed at 951 g/d); and HPHF MR fed at a higher rate (HPHF+; 27% CP, 28% fat; MR fed at 1,431 g/d). Dry calf starter (20% CP, 1.43% fat) composed of ground corn (44.4%), 48% CP soybean meal (44.4%), cottonseed hulls (11.2%), and molasses (1.0%) was offered free choice. Heifers were obtained from a commercial dairy, blocked by groups of 8 in the order acquired, and randomly assigned to treatments within group. Upon arrival at the research farm, heifers were fed the control for 2 feedings. Treatments were imposed when heifers were 4 ± 1 d of age. Heifers were on study for 61 ± 1 d. Body weight and body size measures were taken weekly. Four-day total collection of feed refusals, feces, and urine was initiated at 57 ± 1 d of age. Heifers were slaughtered at the end of the collection period to evaluate body composition. Preplanned contrasts were used to compare control to all, HPLF to HPHF, and HPHF to HPHF+. Heifers fed the control diet consumed more starter than those fed other treatment diets, but their total dry matter intake and apparent dry matter digestibility were lowest. Fecal output was highest in heifers fed the control diet, whereas urine output and urine N excretion were lowest. Nitrogen intake and urine N excretion were greater for heifers fed HPHF+ compared with HPHF but were not affected by MR fat content (HPLF vs. HPHF). Retention (g/d) of N and P was greater in heifers fed all nutrient-dense diets compared with those fed the control diet, but was not improved by increasing fat in the milk replacer (HPLF vs. HPHF) or by increasing the amount fed. Addition of fat to the milk replacer (HPLF vs. HPHF) increased empty body weight fat content without improving average daily gain or frame measures. Increasing the volume fed (HPHF vs. HPHF+) increased growth rate and empty body weight, but HPHF+ heifers were neither taller nor longer and their carcasses contained more fat. Clear improvements in growth and nutrient retention were observed with more nutrient-dense diets, but most of the improvements were seen with the increased protein intake relative to the control MR; adding fat to the high protein MR did not further improve lean tissue gain.
Hill, S.R. , Knowlton, K.F. , Daniels, K.M. , James, R.E. , Pearson, R.E. , Capuco, A.V. , Akers, R.M.
Includes references
Journal of dairy science 2008 Aug., v. 91, no. 8
American Dairy Science Association
Journal Articles, USDA Authors, Peer-Reviewed
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